Issues in the Developed World
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 12: Immigration in the USA: Evolving Demographic Contexts, Geographies and Policy Debates
D.A. Plane and L. Hoffman
D.A. Plane and L. Hoffman Introduction Although the populations of both European countries and the USA now include high percentages of foreign-born persons (in 2005, the US percentage was 12.5 compared to the 8.01 percent estimate reported in the previous chapter for Europe), current policy issues with respect to immigration are significantly different in the American context than in that of the countries of Europe and of the European Economic Community. Although high rates of cross-border movement are found on both sides of the Atlantic, the USA is a vast transcontinental country with a single predominant language and a culture predicated on the absence of barriers to social and internal geographical mobility. Whereas the dynamic of European integration has focused attention on breaking down barriers and creating greater commonalities across ‘intra-European’ nation-state boundaries (with emerging distinctions between intra-European and extra-European immigration – from, e.g., Africa and the Middle East) much of the US public policy discourse has focused of late on securing or ‘hardening’ the nation’s external borders – especially the long southern land boundary with Mexico. Many of the interesting current and future impacts of immigration for the USA are being more widely recognized and experienced because of recent remarkable changes in the channels of diffusion of the foreign-born population across the country and throughout the national urban system. The failure of the federal government to develop a new comprehensive immigration policy has resulted in a fragmented and often contradictory set of policy initiatives being experimented with at the state and...
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